Skip to main content

Coresidence as a Mechanism of Relational Proximity: The Impact of Household Trajectories on the Diversification of Personal Networks

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Family Continuity and Change


For a long time, the household unit—that is, the ‘ménage’—has been a privileged doorway to study family and personal life (Laslett 1972; Wall 2005). Yet, the transformations of family arrangements associated with divorce, informal cohabitation, migration, and ageing alongside the pluralization of the life course have been challenging the heuristic potential of the household unit to capture family meanings and practices (Bonvalet and Lelièvre 2013). More recent approaches (e.g., the configurational perspective) highlight the importance of focusing instead on the networks of meaningful relationships in which individuals are embedded in their everyday lives that can go beyond the limits of the household (Widmer 2010).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Hardcover Book
USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. 1.

    This Project was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (PTDC/SDE/65663/2006).

  2. 2.

    To reconstitute household trajectories, we considered with whom individuals coresided over the last two decades. Our approach to household trajectories draws on the contributions of family historians (Hammel and Laslett 1974; Laslett 1972). We adapted their theoretical and methodological tools by positioning individuals (ego) within household structures. Our examination of the empirical development of biographical events associated with coresidence does not anticipate a model of predefined sequence of stages and transitions.

  3. 3.

    The attribution of substitution and insert / deletion cost is a key element of optimal matching analysis (Abbott and Hrycak 1990; Gauthier 2013). Costs can be set using several methods. In our case, INDEL costs were set at 1 and substitution costs were differentiated according to their (inversed) relative transition frequency (more frequent transitions are less costly, less frequent transitions are more costly).

  4. 4.

    We used the average number of elements cited in each type of tie because we followed the same methodological procedure as Widmer (2010) to create the configurational typology, thus, ensuring future comparability. However, we assume that the proportion of elements cited in each type of tie would have been more accurate to assess the representativeness of these ties within the networks.


  • Abbott, A. 1995. Sequence Analysis: New Methods for Old Ideas. Annual Review of Sociology 21: 93–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1998. The Causal Devolution. Sociological Methods & Research 27(2): 148–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abbott, A., and A. Hrycak. 1990. Measuring Resemblance in Sequence Data: An Optimal Matching Analysis of Musicians’ Careers. American Journal of Sociology 96(1): 144–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Abbott, A., and A. Tsay. 2000. Sequence Analysis and Optimal Matching Methods in Sociology: Review and Prospect. Sociological Methods & Research 29(1): 3–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aboim, S., and Vasconcelos, P. 2013, November 21. From Political to Social Generations: A Critical Reappraisal of Mannheim’s Classical Approach. European Journal of Social Theory 17(2): 165–183.

    Google Scholar 

  • Allan, G., G. Crow, and S. Hawker. 2011. Stepfamilies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Bidart, C., and Lavenu, D. 2005. Evolutions of Personal Networks and Life Events. Social Networks 27(4): 359–376.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonvalet, C., and E. Lelièvre. 2013. Significant Others and the Dynamics of the Family Network (from the Proches et Parents Survey to the Biographies et Entourage Survey). International Review of Sociology 23(1): 8–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Everitt, B.S. 2011. Cluster Analysis, 5th edn. Chichester: Wiley.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Fischer, C.S., and S.J. Oliker. 1983. A Research Note on Friendship, Gender, and the Life Cycle. Social Forces 62(1): 124–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gabadinho, A., G. Ritschard, M. Studer, and N. Müller. 2008. Mining Sequence Data in R with the TraMineR Package: A User’s Guide. Geneva: University of Geneva.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gabadinho, A., G. Ritschard, N.S. Müller, and M. Studer. 2011. Analyzing and Visualizing State Sequences in R with TraMineR. Journal of Statistical Software 40(4).

    Google Scholar 

  • Gauthier, J.-A. 2013. Optimal Matching, a Tool for Comparing Life Course Sequences. In Gendered Life Courses Between Standardization and Individualization. A European Approach Applied to Switzerland, ed. R. Levy, and E.D. Widmer, 37–49. Zürich, Berlin: LIT Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goodwin, J., and H. O’Connor. 2015. A Critical Reassessment of the ‘Complexity’ Orthodoxy: Lessons from Existing Data and Youth ‘Legacy’ Studies. In A Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century, ed. P. Kelly, and A. Kamp, 38–52. Brill: Leiden, Boston.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gouveia, R. 2014. Personal Networks in Portuguese Society: A Configurational and Lifecourse Approach. Tese de doutoramento em Sociologia. Lisboa: Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gray, A. 2009. The Social Capital of Older People. Ageing & Society 29(1): 5–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenacre, M.J. 2007. Correspondence Analysis in Practice, 2nd edn. Boca Raton: Chapmann & Hall/CRC.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Hammel, E.A., and P. Laslett. 1974. Comparing Household Structure Over Time and Between Cultures. Comparative Studies in Society and History 16(1): 73–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Laslett, P. 1972. Introduction: the History of the Family. In Household and Family in Past Time, ed. P. Laslett, and R. Wall, 1–89. Cambridge: Cambrigde University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Merton, R.K. 1968. The Matthew Effect in Science. Science 199: 55–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • ———. 1988. The Matthew Effect in Science, II: Cumulative Advantage and the Symbolism of Intellectual Property. Isis 79(4): 606–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Rand, A.M. 2001. Stratification and the Life Course: The Forms of Life Course Capital and Their Interrelationships. In Handbook of Aging and the Social Sciences, 5th edn, ed. R.H. Binstock, and L.K. George, 197–217. San Diego: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Troll, L. 1987. Gender Differences in Cross-Generation Networks. Sex Roles 17(11–12): 751–766.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wall, K. 2005. Os grupos domésticos de co-residência. In Famílias em Portugal—Percursos, Interacções, Redes Sociais, ed. K. Wall, 553–597. Imprensa de Ciências Sociais: Lisboa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wall, K., and R. Gouveia. 2014. Changing Meanings of Family in Personal Networks. Current Sociology 62(3): 352–373.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Widmer, E.D. 2010. Family Configurations. A Structural Approach to Family Diversity. London: Ashgate.

    Google Scholar 

  • Widmer, E.D., and L.-A. La Farga. 2000. Family Networks: A Sociometric Method to Study Relationships in Families. Field Methods 12(2): 108–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Widmer, E.D., and G. Ritschard. 2013. Life Course Changes in Late Modernity: Towards Destandardization and De-gendering? In Gendered Life Courses Between Standardization and Individualization. A European Approach Applied to Switzerland, ed. L. Verlad, 161–181. Berlin / Zurich: Lit Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Widmer, E.D., G. Aeby, and M. Sapin. 2013. Collecting Family Network Data. International Review of Sociology 23(1): 27–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vasco Ramos .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2017 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Ramos, V., Gouveia, R., Wall, K. (2017). Coresidence as a Mechanism of Relational Proximity: The Impact of Household Trajectories on the Diversification of Personal Networks. In: Česnuitytė, V., Lück, D., D. Widmer, E. (eds) Family Continuity and Change. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-137-59027-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-137-59028-2

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics